THIS week sees the 77th anniversary of the Japanese attack on US base Pearl Harbor.

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HORROR: On December 8, the US declared war on Japan (Pic: imagenet)

PRESIDENT Franklin D Roosevelt called it “a date which will live in infamy”, and it led to America joining the World War Two.

JAPAN began an expansionist policy in September 1931 when it invaded Manchuria. Six years later, it launched a full-scale invasion of China and in 1941 Indochina. The UK and US placed embargoes on oil and scrap metal.

THE Japanese were angry at what they saw as British and American hypocrisy and, running low on oil, believed military action was their only choice.

However, the Japanese began truce talks with America as they planned their attack.

On November 26, 1941, the Kido Butai, the largest fleet then seen in the Pacific consisting of six aircraft carriers, two battleships, two heavy cruisers, a light cruiser, nine destroyers and eight supply ships and tankers, left the Kuril Islands on a top secret mission.

Commanded by Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, its aim was to destroy the US Fleet at anchor in Pearl Harbor, which was 1,864 miles away to the south east.

The Kido Butai sailed on towards Hawaii on December 6 through thick fog. So bad was the visibility that half a dozen lookouts were washed overboard and never seen again.

Just before dawn on December 7, the pilots and their crews awoke and ate a special breakfast of sekihan, rice boiled with very small beans. After they ate, they dressed in their flight suits and wore headbands bearing the word Hissho or “certain victory”.

The Americans actually drew first blood in the battle. The captain of a navy qThe minesweeper spotted a Japanese midget submarine near the harbour entrance and blew it out of the water.

However, the sub was not regarded to be part of a larger attack so no alarm was raised.

The attack began at 7.48am, led by Commander Mitsuo Fuchida who announced “Tora! Tora! Tora!”, the codeword meaning the Americans had been caught napping.

The assault was made up of 353 Japanese aircraft.

A Japanese bomb hit the ammunition magazine of the USS Arizona blowing the ship to pieces, right, and killing more than 1,000 sailors.

The Americans had placed many of its aircraft close together at Hickam Field to deter saboteurs. The decision only made it easier for the Japanese to target all the planes. The Americans lost 250 planes.

Ninety minutes after the first bomb fell, the attack was over. In total, 2,335 American servicemen were killed and 1,143 were wounded. Eighteen ships were sunk or run aground, including five battleships.

On December 8, the US declared war on Japan.

10 OF JAPAN’S ATTACK TARGETS

1 USS California

2 USS Maryland

3 USS Oklahoma

4 USS Tennessee

5 USS West Virginia

6 USS Arizona

7 USS Nevada

8 USS Pennsylvania

9 Ford Island NAS

10 Hickam Field

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